Businesses that manufacture goods know that marketing their products and communicating with customers isn’t always easy. When you rely on others to sell your product, you don’t have control over everything.
Still, there are things manufacturers can do to increase their chances of seeing their products fly off retailers’ shelves and, perhaps more importantly, build relationships with the people buying those products. It starts with gathering data and making a plan to communicate with customers at the right time.
For example, there’s a company selling swimming pool chemicals that’s having success with a program that collects consumer data through an online water-testing program. They offer their customers a test kit that helps the customer measure the water quality in their pool.
The company encourages its customers to register with the testing program online. Once they submit data collected using the test kit onto the company’s website, they’re sent follow-up recommendations on how to treat their pool.
The program benefits customers who participate because they receive information about what products they should purchase, and when they should purchase them.
The program also allows the company to find out who its customers are and market to them when there is an opportunity for sales growth. For example, the company may know that certain weather patterns – say a period of extreme heat – will affect the effectiveness of their chemicals.
The company can now look for program participants in zip codes where extreme heat is being forecast, and send them an email about products designed to work best in that kind of weather.
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Gathering big data is key to generating sales growth. Any manufacturer who has products sold in national big-box retail stores can work with a data analysis company to find out the number of products it has sold at each individual store and when the sales occurred.
The manufacturer can then look for trends within that data to understand things like where its products sell well and where they don’t; which retailers are really driving their sales; and other factors that might have influenced sales, such as the weather or an issue affecting the local economy.
The pool chemical company’s program is obviously working from a short-term sales perspective. But it also has long-term benefits, because it allows the company to build a reputation as a business that keeps in touch with its customers and provides them with valuable information that can help them get the most out of their product.
Another benefit is that the company now has a direct line to its consumers, allowing it to gather more data and do more research to help improve its product line up, pricing strategies and innovation. Retailers go to great lengths to collect and analyze data that can help them predict sales and market their products appropriately. Manufacturers should do the same.